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Today’s Cabinet decision on abortion… December 18, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

It will be interesting to see if, as reported in the SBP at the weekend by Pat Leahy and in the Irish Times today, the Cabinet does indeed decide to legislate for limited abortion ‘in accordance with the X case judgement’. The SBP suggests that at today’s Cabinet meeting the legislation will mean the following:

…abortion will be available where a mother’s life is threatened, including by suicide. However, it will be not be legal in cases of rape or where the foetus is unviable. It is expected that the “suicide test” will be as restrictive as possible.

If legislation is decided for many will find it near incomprehensible how the latter two instances of rape and foetal unviability can not be included even in this entirely minimal legislation. But as was pointed out to me yesterday discussing this with activists – and as stated in the SBP – ‘in accordance with the judgement’ is the crucial phrase. They can’t legislate for rape given the ruling in X and there’s simply no possibility that the current balance of political forces will attempt even to push a little on the issue of foetal unviability – even though there’s a possibility that that might just get through in the context of X.

The minimalist aspects of X are therefore rendered very clear indeed at this point.

Some will say this is an overly cynical analysis that suggests political calculation and compromise between the coalition parties. And if so, so much for the super-heated rhetoric we saw on threads on this site emanating from some in one of the Government parties as regards their bona fides on the issue.

Oh no, wait. Not overly cynical at all, for Leahy notes:

The new package of measures will comply with the government’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, as identified in the ABC case in the European Court of Human Rights. It also represents a political compromise between a broadly pro-choice Labour position and the broadly pro-life stance of Fine Gael. Many Labour TDs favour a more liberal abortion regime, while numerous Fine Gael TDs have spoken of their fears that any legislation for the X case could open the door to “abortion on demand”.

But again, all this has the air of shadow boxing, given that X allows for a very limited number of options. It actually doesn’t matter if LP TDs favour a ‘more liberal abortion regime’, and it matters in some ways only a little more that FG TDs have fears of ‘abortion on demand’ from legislation. Though that latter dynamic will one suspects make the processes instituted around abortion provision incredibly and appallingly restrictive.

And as for the following:

Labour backbencher, Kevin Humphreys, said that the legislation for the X case should be just the start of a liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion laws. “We must deal with the X case, but that is only the beginning, and the Dáil must take a further step and address other issues, for example, rape, incest etc,” Humphries said.

He is correct in that these should be dealt with. But that would require a referendum, would it not? Is such a referendum likely given the still extant predominance of FG/LP and FF? Not really. If in 2012, as we’ve seen, there’s still solid enough support for the status quo ante, then what chance in 2013 we’ll see same? Not much.


1. tomasoflatharta - December 18, 2012

Reblogged this on Tomás Ó Flatharta and commented:
Dublin Government moves with the speed of a glacier on abortion – mote than 20 years after the X Case.


2. Tawdy - December 18, 2012

If there is only legislation for X then I will be disappointed, but it is at least a start. We will have indeed come a long way, slowly.


3. doctorfive - December 18, 2012

K Lynch said there is an expectation out there now but x is as far as they can go while the 8th is still in place.


RosencrantzisDead - December 18, 2012

Better that than nothing. We should remember that the anti-choice crowd want no movement at all.


doctorfive - December 18, 2012



WorldbyStorm - December 18, 2012

That’s a fair point RiD and perhaps I’m being too pessimistic. But it still feels like an hill to climb even from this point to tackle exceptions mentioned above and long before we arrive at anything close to choice.


4. tomasoflatharta - December 18, 2012

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